AZEN, Russia – Limiting its opponent to just 31.3 percent shooting from the field, the 2013 USA Basketball Men’s World University Games Team (2-0) easily defeated Czech Republic (0-2) 96-53 in preliminary round action of the 2013 World University Games on Monday afternoon at Basket Hall 1 in Kazan, Russia.
(Team USA vs. Czech Republic game can be seen Monday, 5 p.m., Mountain, ESPNU).
Twenty-three points from Doug McDermott (Creighton/Ames, Iowa), who also grabbed 10 rebounds and shot 5-of-5 from the free throw line, led the USA, while Luke Hancock (Louisville/Roanoke, Va.) scored 15 points in 17 minutes, including shooting 5-of-10 from 3-point.
“I’m very pleased,” said USA head coach Bob McKillop (Davidson College). “I see the development of the players trusting the system, the coaches understanding the talents of the players and the evolving teamwork that is a result of that. They’re talking more. There are great opportunities for leadership out there for individuals; I think this is a very profitable experience every time they step on the floor with us.”
Cory Jefferson (Baylor/Killeen, Texas) added 10 points and 15 rebounds, and Will Sheehey (Indiana/Stuart, Fla.) tallied 10 points, four rebounds and four assists. Yogi Ferrell (Indiana Indianapolis, Ind.) also dished out four assists.
CU’s Spencer Dinwiddie (Woodland Hills, Calif.), the lone Pac-12 Conference player on the roster played 22 minutes and once again started the game. He went 2-of-6 from the field, scoring five points with three assists, two rebounds, and one steal.
The USA shot 42.7 percent from the field (35-82 FGs) and 82.4 percent from the line (14-17 FTs) while it compiled an impressive 62-29 rebounding advantage on the glass.
“I think we did improve,” McDermott said. “We’re all starting to trust each other and we’re hearing each other’s voices a lot better out there, and that’s big on defense to communicate.”
For the first few minutes of the game, Czech Republic stayed close, but a jumper from Jefferson at 6:01 was the start of the USA’s first run of the game – a 6-0 stretch that put the Americas up 12-4 with a score from Ferrell at 3:25. Czech ended the draught at the free throw line, sinking five from the charity stripe before the USA once again tallied six unanswered points to close the period leading 20-9.
With the USA ahead 21-11 at 8:43 in the second quarter, the red, white and blue held Czech scoreless for 2:50 while it raced to nine straight points, its largest run of the game, to lead 30-11 with a put-back score from McDermott at 7:02. After threes from Sean Kilpatrick (Cincinnati/Yonkers, N.Y.) and Treveon Graham (VCU/Temple Hills, Md.) and a score from Jefferson, Czech made its own 7-0 run, but the USA already had pulled away and led 41-22 at halftime.
“I think when we play defense really well against the other team, it gets them out of their game, and then the offense comes easier for us,” Graham said.
With the game’s outcome all but decided, the USA outscore Czech 25-16 in the third and 30-15 in the fourth to bring the game to its 96-53 final.
The USA’s largest lead of the game, 44 points (96-52), came at 1:09 in the fourth quarter after an alley-oop dunk from Ferrell to Tyler Haws (BYU/Alpine, Utah) for the finish.
“All we need to do is keep improving, getting better every game and we’re going to be fine,” Hancock said. “We’ve got to get through these next three games and we want to be at the top. We want to go 5-0 in pool play and set ourselves up for a great finish. That’s our goal, to win three more, now we have to get it done.”
After an off day on July 9, the USA will continue preliminary round play against Sweden (0-2) at 9 p.m. (times listed are local; Kazan, Russia, is +8 hours from EDT) on July 10; before playing Australia (2-0) at 6:30 p.m. on July 11; and Canada (1-0) at 1 p.m. on July 12.
Also today in the USA’s Group C, Australia won against Sweden 70-53 while Canada plays United Arab Emirates (0-1) at 8:30 p.m. In Group A, South Korea (2-0) beat Oman (0-2) 126-77, Germany (1-0) defeated Ukraine (0-2) 78-58 and host Russia (1-0) will play Estonia (1-0) at 9 p.m. In Group B, Romania (2-0) remained unbeaten with a 77-57 win over Japan (0-2), Mexico (2-0) handled Mongolia (0-2) 108-54 and Serbia (1-0) will take on Philippines (0-1) at 6 p.m. In Group D, Norway (1-1) downed China (0-2) 106-74, Brazil (2-0) topped Finland (1-1) 75-65 and Lithuania (1-0) will meet Chile (0-1) at 6 p.m.
Following the preliminary round, the first and second-placed teams in each of the four pools advance to the medal quarterfinals on July 14 to compete for first through eighth places; while the remaining teams will play out for ninth to 24th places. The semifinals will be played on July 15, and the finals will be contested on July 16.
Assisting McKillop on the USA sideline are John Beilein of the University of Michigan and Frank Martin of the University of South Carolina.
The USA is looking for its first gold medal at the World University Games men’s basketball competition since 2005, and currently holds a 140-9 all-time record in World University Games play.